Reporting Assault, Misconduct, and Inappropriate Conduct

Trigger Warning

This page will contain discussion of rape, sexual assault, harassment and abuse. If you are affected by any of the issues raised on this page, please see support from the organisations listed on College and University support and external support.

Report + Support

The central university has a ‘report + support’ system of making named reports about inappropriate behaviour of other students and/or staff. Once you make a report the Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (OSCCA) will be in touch within a week to set up an initial meeting. In this meeting you will discuss your desired outcomes, and than further meetings or an investigation (by an independent investigate) will be carried out. Throughout this process, you will be provided support by the college/university. After the meetings/investigation a conclusion will be reached. This is only a basic overview of the process, more detailed information about reporting routes avalble via Support + Report can be found here: https://reportandsupport.cam.ac.uk.

Advantages
More severe disciplinary action is possible
OSCCA are much less likely to have conflicts of interest than college staff
OSCCA have staff who are much more experienced in these issues than college staff

Disadvantages
It may take sometime for the investigation to finish
It may require you to provide more precise information on what happened
You have to attend a meeting with a Disciplinary Committee
You cannot formally report under college procedure if you have already formally reported via ‘Report + Support’

An anonymous reporting option within the report + support is curently being reviewed. In the time being students and staff can make anonymous reports on an existing system which has been in existence since 2017.

Advantages
It can be therapeutic
It helps the university understand patterns of misconduct on campus and take issues more seriously

Disadvantages
No action can be taken as a result of anonymous reporting

College Procedure

Informally

This process is initiated by talking to a member of college staff who has a pastoral position. This could be your personal tutor, the college nurse, a director of studies or the senior tutor. You can write an email, although it may be better to meet in person. You can disclose as much information as you feel comfortable with. If you report informally, there will be no need for an investigation into the event, and no judgement on the credibility of the complaint will be made. Using the informal process, disciplinary action cannot be taken, but ‘alternative resolution’ can be, the exact nature of which will be determined by your personal preference. ‘Alternative resolution’ can include: mediation with the perpetrator, requiring the perpetrator to attend behaviour awareness training, requiring the perpetrator to sign a conduct agreement, preventing contact between you and the perpetrator (in academic settings, social settings and accommodation). A record that a complaint has been made (without judgement on its truth) will be kept.

Advantages
You do not have to go through a long investigation process
You do not have to describe exactly what happened to you if you do not want to
If you later decide to report formally, you can still do so

Disadvantages
More severe disciplinary action cannot be taken
College staff may have conflicts of interest

Formally

This process is initiated by filling in the ‘Reporting Sexual Assault and Harassment Form’, or writing to the Senior Tutor, or meeting with the Senior Tutor in person. You can disclose as much information as you feel comfortable with at this initial stage. Pastoral support will be offered while the complaint is made. Also, during the investigation, action can be taken to keep you safe, such as limiting the perpetrator’s interactions with you, or imposing other conditions on them. Once you have made your complaint, the Senior Tutor will inform you whether it will be referred for investigation. If it is referred for investigation, an independent trained investigator will be appointed to establish what happened. This may include meeting with you, meeting with the perpetrator, meeting with any witnesses and gathering evidence. The investigator will then write a report with a recommended course of action, which the Senior Tutor can decide to take on board or not. The investigator will operate on the principle of ‘balance of probabilities’ when deciding what happened.

Disciplinary action taken can include: requiring the perpetrator to attend behaviour awareness training, requiring the perpetrator to sign a conduct agreement, preventing contact between you and the perpetrator (in academic settings, social settings and accommodation), requiring the perpetrator to undergo a period of intermission, or excluding the perpetrator. A record of what the perpetrator did will be kept, which may be taken into account if a further complaint is made against them under this procedure. You can have the decision of the Investigator/Tutor reviewed if you believe it was biased or the investigation was not conducted properly, or if new evidence is available.

Advantages
There are more possible resolutions, with more severe potential repercussions
You can approach an organisation you know

Disadvantages
It may take some time for the investigation to finish
It may require you to provide more precise information on what happened
College staff may have conflicts of interest
You cannot formally report under university procedure if you have reported via college.

Police

None of the procedures offered by colleges or the university prevent you from reporting to the police at any time. Normally, if you report to the police, the college/OSCCA will suspend any of their own investigations, although they can still enforce precautionary action to limit your contact with the perpetrator, and they should still offer you pastoral support. Advice on reporting to the police can be found here.

Advantages
You can still receive support from your college/the university
Serious disciplinary action can be taken

Disadvantages
Experiences with the police can be variable, as some officers may be less understanding than others
Certain groups may feel uncomfortable around police

This information has been taken from ‘Report + Support, University of Cambridge, and ‘Loud and Clear: The Guide’ (2020)